About two years ago, Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines started a partnership which allowed their passengers to collect miles into each other’s programs. Earlier this week, that partnership was expanded to allow Alaska Mileage Plan members to book award flights on Singapore Airlines.
The amount of miles required for most of the offered routes is quite high. However, for people living in or visiting Asia, there is one (very) sweet spot – flights within the “Southest Asia” region.
Combining this new redemption opportunity with Alaska Airlines’ frequent mileage sales, it’s possible to spend 10 hours in Singapore Airlines first class for just $829.79 – or even a bit less!
Alaska Mileage Plan Award Chart for Singapore Airlines Flights
As mentioned above, overall, the costs of Singapore Airlines award tickets are very high. However, even then – depending on your circumstances – using the strategy I outline further below might be worthwhile.
As such, let’s take a look at the award chart first.
While you can find the full award chart here, below is an excerpt showing prices for tickets originating in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, Europe, and the United States. The three numbers shown for each pair of regions represent the amount of miles required for one-way economy, business, and first class tickets.
While the chart is mostly easy to understand, there are a couple of things worth mentioning.
First, the availability including long-haul business class and regional first class seats seems to be much better compared to Singapore Airlines’ other partners as well.
Second, Southeast Asia – besides countries like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and so on – also includes China and Hong Kong. Northeast Asia includes Japan and Korea. South Pacific includes Australia and New Zealand.
Third, even though Singapore Airlines operates fifth freedom flights between Europe and the United States, those are not bookable.
It’s also worth noting that besides being allowed to transfer through Singapore, you can also do a stopover there instead. I.e. you can fly to Singapore, spend a couple of days there, and then continue to your final destination for the price of a one-way ticket.
The Sweet Spot: Beijing and Shanghai to Hong Kong
If you look at the award chart above carefully, you can see that both business and first class flights within Southeast Asia are less than half the price of all the other flights. Considering that flights within the region (like Singapore – Bangkok and Singapore – Jakarta) are generally about two hours long, that’s understandable.
However, the facts that China and Hong Kong counts as Southeast Asia in this case and that you can transfer in Singapore present a great opportunity.
Flights connecting Singapore with China and Hong Kong are fairly long, some are not much shorter than flights to Northeast Asia. For example, flights from Singapore to Shanghai and Beijing take about six hours, and from Singapore to Hong Kong about four hours.
That’s not the only thing worth mentioning about them, though.
The other thing is that – unlike on the other routes within the region – Singapore Airlines uses aircraft with its long-haul first and business class seats on some of its flights to China and Hong Kong.
With the above in mind, the perfect itinerary would be Beijing – Singapore – Shanghai or vice-versa – to maximize travel time. That is not bookable due to anti-cabotage laws (i.e. foreign airlines not being able to operate domestic flights), though.
The next best itineraries – the ones that you can actually book – are flights from Shanghai or Beijing to Hong Kong via Singapore or vice-versa. Doing so will – for just 25,000 miles for business or 35,000 miles for first class – give you about ten hours of flight time across the two flights.
If you decide to splurge and fly first class, you will have the chance to try the airline’s original as well as new first class suite on the A380 and the long-haul first class seat on the 777-300ER. You can find a detailed guide to Singapore Airlines’ first class seats and the flights they are used on here.
Below is a quick overview of the Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong flights that offer Suites at this point (subject to change):
- Original (2006) Suites: SQ802/807 Singapore – Beijing
- New (2017) Suites: SQ830/833 Singapore – Shanghai – Singapore, SQ856/861 Singapore – Hong Kong – Singapore
The Missing Piece of Puzzle: Buying Alaska Miles
In case you don’t have the required miles to book the flights, don’t worry – you can buy them. Alaska Airlines, like many others, sells its frequent flyer miles. What is more, it often does so at a discount in the form of up to 50% (more often 40%) bonus miles.
If you never knew that you could buy frequent flyer miles or are fairly new to the concept, make sure to check my detailed guide about buying miles.
However, for the amounts required for the above awards – i.e. up to 35,000 miles – only a 30% bonus is offered. Besides the miles, you will also have to pay taxes and fees of about $32 when booking the flights.
With that, a one-way business class ticket from Shanghai or Beijing to Hong Kong via Singapore and vice-versa will cost you $622.95 in business class (buying 26,000 miles plus paying $32 in taxes) and $829.79 in first class (buying 35,100 miles plus paying $32 in taxes and fees).
If you decide to buy more miles (for two of these, for this and a Cathay Pacific first flight, etc.), the cost will be slightly lower as you will be able to get 40% instead of 30% bonus miles.
You can buy miles on Alaska Airlines’ website as long as your account is at least 10 days old.
If you need to get between cities in Southeast Asia, there are many other ways than this, of course. However, if you are looking for a relatively affordable (especially if you live in Asia or have plans to visit) way to try Singapore Airlines first class, right now this is likely the best way to do so.
For less than $850, you can fly Singapore Airlines’ first class twice – and even fly in its new Suites – and visit the airline’s exclusive The Private Room lounge in Singapore.
Before buying miles to take advantage of this offer, make sure to understand how that works – and the risks associated with it. Especially be aware of the fact that availability is fairly limited on some of the routes and that it can change between the time you buy your miles and get around to booking the flights.
As for myself, I didn’t have to buy miles this time since I earned plenty with my Cathay Pacific flights last month.
I did book myself one of these “sweet spot” awards, though.
In February 2020, I am scheduled to fly from Beijing to Hong Kong via Singapore with one of the flights being in the original suite and the other in the new suite. Of course, if all goes as planned, you will be seeing reviews of both – as well as The Private Room and more – here.